July 28, 2011

James Weldon Johnson Institute partners to launch CNN Dialogues

First forum on Aug. 31 to be moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer

CNN Dialogues

CNN, the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights have joined together to launch CNN Dialogues, a series of public discussions featuring prominent figures debating the major issues that define our times. 

CNN’s lead political anchor and host of “The Situation Room” Wolf Blitzer will moderate the inaugural program on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. in the Cecil B. Day Chapel of The Carter Center. This first public forum will focus on the U.S. census and the impact of the nation’s changing demographics on who we are and how we live, examining our national identity, economy, politics and the view of America in the broader world. 

For the inaugural program, “CNN Dialogues: The 2010 Census and a New America,” Blitzer will facilitate a discussion with panelists including:

• Author Heidi Durrow, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” (2011);

• Attorney Yul Kwon, host of PBS’ “America Revealed” and winner of television’s “Survivor: Cook Islands”;

• University of Maryland sociology and demography professor Kris Marsh;

• Actor Edward James Olmos; and

• Emory University American Studies professor Dana White

The onstage discussion will include questions and comments from the audience. 

Tickets for this program are $25 and may be purchased online at, or by calling the James Weldon Johnson Institute at 404.727.2515, or the National Center for Civil and Human Rights at 404.991.6988.  Profits from ticket sales will support the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the James Weldon Johnson Institute.

Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, says of the announcement, “CNN is pleased to join with Emory and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in our shared mission of bringing information and insights to venues where public dialogue and debate will be engaging and enlightening.”

This is the first of three programs in the series that will be presented in 2011. In the coming months, other CNN Dialogues will focus on the impact of the digital age on concepts of privacy and American culture, and the effect of openness on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) communities. Future topics will include the arts, culture, economic issues, media, science, politics and sports themes.

“This partnership and series are the culmination of an effort to bring together the renowned scholarship of Emory, the ethical leadership of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the global resources and prominence of CNN in an open forum in service for the public,” says Rudolph P. Byrd, founding director of Emory’s James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference and Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies.

Doug Shipman, CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, says, “We are thrilled to join with CNN and Emory on this collaborative project, which is also an important step in the life of the center.”

The planning committee for CNN Dialogues includes writer Pearl Cleage; Morehouse College President Robert Franklin; President and Trustee of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Penelope McPhee; Emory’s Vice President for Communications and Marketing Ron Sauder; Executive Vice President and Director of Programming for Atlanta’s World Affairs Council Cedric Suzman; President and CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Tisha Tallman; and Eric Tanenblatt of the Atlanta-based law firm of McKenna, Long, and Aldrich.

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